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Cough, fast breaths, are early signs of pneumonia, says expert?

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Cough and fast breaths or 50 or more breaths per minute are the early signs that a child has a pneumonia, according to a health expert.
"If you count 50 breaths per minute to a child below one year and 40 for child more than one year of age that is fast breathing and having a cough is one way to recognize that a child has a pneumonia," Dr. Lulu Bravo, a notable pediatrician told journalist on Friday at the Crowne Plaza, Pasig City.

Other signs of severe form of pneumonia (usually combination of virus and bacteria which are deadly already) is when a child starts having difficulty of breathing, which at times mistaken as asthma, Bravo said.

For infants younger than 1 month of age, pneumonia symptoms may include having little or no energy (lethargy), feeding poorly, grunting, or having a fever.

"From the onset of severe pneumonia the average death in children is actualy five days and they could die within 24 to 48 hours," Bravo said.

Accordingly, pneumococcus bacterium is spread from one child to another via coughing or sneezing, after which it invades the nose and throat. Crowded places such as malls and daycare centers are especially high-risk places for contracting the disease.

Bravo advised parent to have her child stay away from people who have colds, flu, or other respiratory tract infections.

Washing of hands as often helps prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria that may cause pneumonia, she said.

Bravo said the best way to deal with it is really giving of vaccinations among children, which are already available in the market. The so-called pneumoccocal conjugate vaccine (PCV) manufactured by Pfizer could also be given to infants as young as 6 weeks.

Accordingly, the pneumococcal vaccine may not prevent pneumonia. But it can prevent some of the serious complications of pneumonia, such as infection in the bloodstream (bacteremia) or throughout the body (septicemia), in younger adults and those older than age 55 who have a healthy immune system.

Other vaccines can prevent common diseases that sometimes lead to pneumonia, includes measles, flu, chickenpox.

Likewise, Bravo encouraged parents to have their children avail of the routine immunization schedule, usually given at the barangay health centers as against preventable diseases before the child's first birthday.

Bravo said at least 37 children in the Philippines under five years of age die everyday of pneumonia or about 9,000 children die due to pneumonia every year.

"Pneumonia is number one killer in children less than 5 and it is number 2 overall for all causes of deaths in the Philippines,"Bravo said, noting cardiovascular diseases as number one.

Also vulnerable to pneumonia are older people or those people 50 and above especially smokers, Bravo said, noting the need to also have vaccines.

By PNA/PIA9-ZBST




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